Last Updated on September 7, 2020
Free Camping and Caravanning in Australia
Traveling in Australia can be expensive, the famous East Coast road trip is one of the most popular routes and has so many activities that can drain a travel budget quickly, but it also offers many fabulous free camping opportunities as do all other parts of the country.
Two questions that visitors to Australia regularly ask:
- Can travellers camp for free in Australia? Yes, we have hundreds of free and low-cost campsites in Australia.
- Where can we find out about free camping sites in Australia? Who uses free camping grounds? Download the Wiki Camps AU app on a smartphone or device and learn about the App features and how to search for free camping parks before you start travelling. It is a great app and easy to use with so many features to help with planning a road trip down under. Many different people like to use free camping areas, they are often very friendly places to stay and people tend to chat more, sharing information and tips with each other.
How to find the best free campsites in Australia
Freedom camping (as the New Zealanders call it) is huge in Australia. Many campsites can easily be found when touring and backpacking in Australia. Tasmania is especially popular with many wonderful free campsites, Qld also has a lot of areas set aside for budget camping.
Often there will be official free campgrounds, especially in or near to National Parks, or there will be a hidden oasis with camping freely available. Many of the sites will get busy in peak holiday times, but they will mostly be filled with Aussies – great for getting to meet locals if you are backpacking here! Campsites can often be found by asking locals or at tourist information centres in nearby towns.
A major bonus of heading into free camping areas is that bookings are usually not needed. Makes it so simple to go where you please at a moment’s notice!
It is possible to free camp the whole way around Australia on a ‘Big Lap’ of the country if you were really keen to.
Free Camping along the Great Ocean Road
The 12 Apostles, Great Ocean Road drive is the most popular road trip in Australia.
Visitor numbers are on the rise constantly and it is often considered to be an area where free camping is not allowed. If you try to pull up on the roadside along the coast and camp for free or stay in your caravan/motorhome, the chances are high that you will be asked to move on or even be fined.
But, you can free camp in some of the most beautiful parts of the region, up in the Great Otway National Park. Waterfalls, rainforest walks, koalas and kanagaroos can all be enjoyed.
Honesty Boxes at Campgrounds
Some free sites will have an honesty box where campers can put in a donation for using the site and help it to be maintained. Giving $5 dollars or more to keep these places going is a good idea.
Can I free camp in roadside rest areas or in towns anywhere?
Many rest areas do allow free overnight stops for campers and caravanners. If you stop in a rest area, please be aware that truck drivers may also use the area at night, often arriving late and so be careful to park out of the way and give them room as it is mandatory that they stop after so many hours on the road and the last thing they need is to find nowhere to park and have to drive further.
Each town and council will have different rules. Some towns are realising the huge potential in offering free camp areas for people touring as it brings money to the area when visitors buy fuel and food etc.
Look for signs and be warned that you might be fined for staying overnight illegally. Many travellers sleep in their vehicles, discreetly parked, but it is better to find a legal campsite to avoid any bother during the night from police or officials.
Free Camp Ground Facilities
Long Drop Loos, Port-a-potties and ‘going bush’…
Free campgrounds will often have ‘long drop’ toilets provided (other Aussie slang terms are dunny, outhouse, thunderbox).
“We Are Explorers” has an amusing yet sensible guide to toilet etiquette when in the bush. Read more…
Toilet paper… bring your own, just in case!
Showering when on the road
Very few free camps have shower facilities, this is fair enough. There will often be a river or lake nearby where you can have a swim and get clean (but do not use shampoos, soaps etc and cause pollution). Or try using solar camping showers These are often simply a black plastic sack with a shower nozzle on the end and can be heated up by laying out in the sun – caution though if you are new to using them – they can get really hot.
Commercial caravan/camping parks will sometimes allow people to pay to have a shower and seaside areas often have free, cold, showers available. Roadhouses and large country petrol/gas stations that are frequented by truck drivers often have showers to use too.
Daily life & chores when on the road
Finding water and filling up containers or water tanks on vans is generally easy to do in Australia. Information centres, parks and petrol stations usually always have taps. Ask if necessary and do not assume it is ok to collect large quantities of water.
Easy! Many parks and picnic area have electric bbq’s that are often free to use – have a bbq on the road. Small gas stoves are not expensive to buy and gas bottle exchanges can be made at petrol stations and stores all over the place.
Thermal cookers are an awesome way to get a meal started in the morning, using a heat source, and then left to cook for hours, read more about thermal cooking.
Coffee can be really expensive to buy on the road, some petrol stations sell very cheap take away coffee, so have your reusable mug and save money or make your own. The Aeropress coffee maker is a great little unit that is simple and makes awesome coffee.
This can be a costly part of travel and an irksome chore. Having easy to wash and dry clothes will make it simpler, but it’s still a pain in the proverbial and the budget.
The Scrubba Bag is a nifty product for hand washing clothes or another simple method is to use a bucket and a plunger (like one for unblocking drains). Add water, laundry liquid/powder and then swish it and plunge it and add clothes…. hand wring and hang out whilst having a cuppa. Too easy. Sort of.
Mini electric washing machines for caravans and also manual washing machines for travel have come a long way in the past decade or so, find some excellent travel washing machines on ebay. They are quite reasonably priced too.
Learning from other people
One of the best ways to find an awesome site or learn some more money saving techniques is to listen to other travellers. By having a yack and sharing knowledge we can all learn so much and make friends along the way too.
AU APPS – Free Camping
Wiki Camps Australia: “WikiCamps is the ultimate camping companion for your smartphone, tablet or Windows PC.
With the largest and most up-to-date database of campgrounds, caravan parks, backpacker hostels, day use area, points of interest, information centres and public dump points you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
The database is kept up-to-date by users just like yourself, so it is forever growing and always being updated with the latest information”.
Camps App – Camps Australia Wide: “Released by the team at Camps Australia Wide publishing, this App combines all the information and photographs from the Camps Australia Wide and Caravan Parks Australia Wide guides and offers a user-friendly and interactive tool you can take anywhere. The Camps App has Public Dump Points & Information Centres on the active map”.
Country Pub Camping
This is a good way to spread the tourism dollar around. Many country pubs will provide a spot to camp, very often free or at a low cost. What they hope for in return is for campers to pop into the pub for a drink or a meal. A fair exchange, we all have to eat anyway and an occasional pub meal in a genuine Aussie pub is a smashing idea.
5 Best Free Camping Grounds in Victoria
This is our home state and it hard to narrow down the best free camps to only 5 as we have stayed in so many top places.
- Sheepyard Flats: This is one of our favourites and we have camped here a number of times over the past 20 years or so. It gets really busy in peak times but if you come out of the school holiday times and it is blissful. The Mt Timbertop walk is on the way into Sheepyard Flats and 4 wd tracks go on further from the camping area on the Howqua River.
- Great Ocean Road: There used to be a good number of free camps along the Ocean Road but many now have a fee, which is reasonable enough. The remaining free sites are all quite good, read about them here.
- Murray River: The Murray River has the longest free camping site in Australia, in our opinion! Many wonderful free campgrounds are dotted along the river banks, some with toilets and some are for people who are self-contained. One of our favourites near Yarrawonga is Bruce’s Bend.
- Genoa Rest Area: We have camped here a few times on drives around the coast to Sydney. It’s a lovely camp. Toilets, cold-water showers and free BBQ’s. It is a good location for doing trips into the nearby Croajingolong National Park. This flat, grassy free camp on the Genoa River is a brilliant location, just far enough off the Princes Highway for a good night’s sleep. Location: 23km north-west of Mallacoota.
- Blue Pool: This is a special little spot with awesome swimming in the lagoon, Located in the Briagalong State forest not far from the town of Stratford in East Gippsland.
5 Best Free Camping Grounds in Tasmania
5 Best Free Camping Grounds in South Australia
- Flinders Ranges: The Flinders Ranges offer so many free camp possibilities and we have stayed in a few spots including Wilpena Pound (paid) campsite. This page has a list of available free camps to choose from.
- Terowie Railway Yard: Step back in time at Terowie, a town with historic 19th Century buildings. The main street is lined with these beautiful old buildings and it is possible to explore them inside by asking for keys from the café. The free campsite in the old railway station yards.
- The Gap, Yorke Peninsula A popular camping area with some beachfront sites located amongst the dunes on the Yorke Peninsula. Swimming, fishing or boating in the ocean is easily done from your campsite. Bookings to camp here do need to be made through the local Visitor Information Centre.
- Brown Bay, Port MacDonnell: East of Port MacDonnell, the views from the camp are stunning, making this one f the very best free camps around. The sealed car park has spaces that are perfect for staying the night… but… there is also a track to the beach where you can camp right by the beachfront. A perfect spot to swim, fish…lounge… Location: 20 mins from Port MacDonnell / close to the Vic / SA Border
- Nullarbor Plain: Bunda Cliffs Free Camp. Pets allowed, no facilities at all so you need to be fully self-contained – the cliffs are an awesome 80 metres high, dropping off into the Southern Ocean. A top spot for whale watching during the winter months and catching sunrises and sunsets. Close to the Nullarbor Roadhouse, the Murrawijinie Caves are worth adding to your list of must-sees’, visitors can walk down into three sinkholes to see ochre hand stencils on the cave walls. Free Camp Location: There is a sign to the free camp from the Eyre Highway about 75 km east of Border Village / 109 km west of Nullarbor Roadhouse.
5 Best Free Camping Grounds in Western Australia
- Australian Bight – Border village Free Camp Dirt tracks are accessible to drive down where you can pick a spot to camp. It is easy to find fabulous spots with ocean views to enjoy and whales can often be spotted during the winter months. Location: On the West Australia / South Australia border.
- DeGrey River Rest Area, North West Coastal Highway – A free bush camp on the Pilbara’s remote outback. On WA’s mid-west coast, a network of Welcome Rest Stops along the Warlu Way are available with free, solar-powered wi-fi! Even during the peak travel season, it is possible to find spots in this lovely camp with camping spots stretching along the river’s northern bank. Location: 82km north-east of Port Hedland on the North West Coastal Highway.
- Cliff Head Campground – 3 free campgrounds, Cliff Head South, Cliff Head North and one which is in the middle. There is a beautiful beach with fabulous sunset views. Location: Arrowsmith – 106 km south of Geraldton.
- Mary Pool Free Camp – This is a really popular free camp on the banks of the Margaret River in the Kimberley Region. Location: 180kms East of Fitzroy Crossing / 108kms West of Halls Creek.
- Cosy Corner Free Campground – This lovely free camp is close to the coast and has about 10 free campsites. Location: 38 km East of Denmark and 30 km West of Albany.
5 Best Free Camping Grounds in the Northern Territory
- Uluru – Curtin Springs. The closest and best free camping option near Uluru/Ayers Rock is at They offer 4 powered sites at a charge and unlimited free camping sites. There is a small charge for showers, fireplaces (BYO wood). There is petrol, food to buy and paid accommodation available too. Location: This family-owned cattle station on over a million acres is about 1 hour from Yulara and the entrance to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.
- Kakadu – Bush campsites used to be free in Kakadu National Park but now cost about $5 per person. There are lots of sites to choose from. Find out more about different camping options here.
- Chambers Pillar – This stunning rock formation is another must-see-stay part of the Australian Outback. Costs are ridiculously low, almost free, $3.30 per adult, families under $8. Find out what to see and do as well as campground information here. Location: 4 hr 40 min / 165 km south of Alice Springs.
- West MacDonnell National Park – 2-Mile Campground is another, just about free, campground that is worth staying in. Beautifully located along the Finke River with gorges to explore. Read more… Location: 65 km / 1 Hour West of Alice Springs
- Devils Marbles / Karlu Karlu Conservation Reserve – Whilst not actually free, the cost to stay here is so minimal that it is worth paying. About $6 per adult and $3.30 per child, this famous location is a ‘must-stay’. Location: 100 km South of Tennant Creek / 400 km North of Alice Springs
5 Best Free Camping Grounds in Queensland
- Cairns: We just can’t choose between a number of free campsites near Cairns, read about 8 top free camping sites here.
- Babinda RV Camp: This is a brilliant Free campground in North Queensland providing all the facilities needed. A shower block provides decadent hot showers for $2, toilet block, water and a dump point. Lots of space and plenty of level sites to set up camp. Location: 65 km south of Cairns
- Gregory River: An awesome location with a campground above the river or you can free camp beside the river. Relax and enjoy floating down the river if you have an inner tube or something like that!
This is a popular spot for people travelling on to Adels Grove and Lawn Hill National Park. Location: Gregory, 148 m north of Mackay.
- Corella Dam: A wonderful free camp. A short dirt road in with lots of sites, some are near a dam. Location: 50 km west of Cloncurry.
- Calliope River Rest Area, Calliope River: Two days max stays, enough time to visit the Calliope River Historical Village. The village has lots of original buildings – Railway Station, Clyde Hotel and the police cell. There is a small entry fee to the historic village. Location: 28 km west of Gladstone.
5 Best Free Camping Grounds in New South Wales
- Hunter Valley: McNamara Park is the perfect free campsite to spend time exploring the Hunter Valley wine region. Situated close to the township of Broke, with a pub within walking distance and plenty of nearby restaurants. Location and more information here.
- North Coast
- Blue Mountains: here. The Ingar Campground is a good choice if visiting the famous Blue Mountains. Location and more information
- Kosciuszko National Park: In the Thredbo-Perisher resort area of the National Park the Ngarigo is perfect. On the Thredbo River, this free camp is beautiful. There is an entry fee to the National Park. Location and more information: National Parks N.S.W.
- Wheeny Creek: A sweet little free campground in the Wollemi National Park. It has basic toilet facilities. This is about as close to Sydney as you can get when free camping. Location and more information here.